Wicked Wednesdays: A Wrinkle in Time

Wicked Wednesdays features books that have been banned and challenged in parts of the U.S. at different points of time, from classics to the dictionary (yep, you read that right).

http://www.indiebound.org/book/

 

It was a dark and stormy night; Meg Murry, her small brother Charles Wallace, and her mother had come down to the kitchen for a midnight snack when they were upset by the arrival of a most disturbing stranger.

“Wild nights are my glory,” the unearthly stranger told them. “I just got caught in a downdraft and blown off course. Let me sit down for a moment, and then I’ll be on my way. Speaking of ways, by the way, there is such a thing as a tesseract.”

A tesseract (in case the reader doesn’t know) is a wrinkle in time. To tell more would rob the reader of the enjoyment of Miss L’Engle’s unusual book. A Wrinkle in Time, winner of the Newbery Medal in 1963, is the story of the adventures in space and time of Meg, Charles Wallace, and Calvin O’Keefe (athlete, student, and one of the most popular boys in high school). They are in search of Meg’s father, a scientist who disappeared while engaged in secret work for the government on the tesseract problem. A Wrinkle in Time is the winner of the 1963 Newbery Medal.

Being one of my favorite books from fifth grade, I couldn’t believe it when I found it on the banned books list. Of course I should have remembered the time period it was published in and how much of a scandal it was for a female hero. Also, for some reason, it was criticized for being too difficult for children and dealing too much with evil. Don’t ask me why, I don’t get why that’s a problem either. But it was mainly banned for religious reasons: it’s too Christian and it’s not Christian enough. Even though  Madeline L’Engle doesn’t consider A Wrinkle in Time a Christian book, she puts in a lot of biblical references and religious undertones to make her religious viewpoints known. However, her views were considered too liberal by many. Even though this is a story about good vs. evil, and about friendship, loyalty, love, and family, some have said it has Satanic undertones (can I just say right now– I hate people sometimes). The school system of Anniston, Alabama challenged it in 1990 as well because the book apparently implied that Jesus wasn’t divine because the book roped him in with other religious and political leaders as well as philosophers and scientists. (Frankly, I don’t get it. He’s only divine in Christianity and I don’t find it an insult to use him in the same sentence as Ghandhi), and the Citizens for Excellence in Education challenged it for similar reasons.

I even after researching it, I still don’t really see it. Here’s what I took away from the story: conformity and evil bad, individualism and peace, good. Maybe it was the anti-conformist views. I thought it was a great read, though, that has some very smart concepts and is a challenging but not impossible book for young readers, and it’s very entertaining. And yes, I’d recommend this book to anyone.

 

Wicked Wednesdays: Hansel and Gretal

This series features books that have been banned or challenged in the U.S., with everything from fairy tales to classics, to the dictionary (yep, you read that correctly).

The newest face of the witch burning siblings

So, Hansel and Gretal.  Basically, we all know the story, right? (Spoilers ahead for those who don’t)

There are a lot of variations on this, but the basic story is their stepmother or father takes them out into the middle of the woods and leaves them there. Hansel had left a trail of breadcrumbs behind him so they could find their way back to the house, but the birds ate the trail and they became lost. While wandering in the woods, they find a house made of candy and a woman inviting them in, telling them they can eat all the sweets they like. (Note to self: don’t take candy from strangers). The kids eat themselves sick on candy, so sick that they can’t fight the woman who puts them in a cage and then forces them to eat more food to fatten them up, because, you know, she’s really a witch and that’s what witches do, apparently.

Long story short, Gretal saves her brother by tricking the witch and pushing her into her own oven where she promptly burns to death.

I can’t say this was my favorite childhood story at the time, because something about burning a person didn’t sit right with me (Grimm’s Fairytales was banned in the U.S. for a period of time for such violence). However, I have to appreciate the girl-saves-guy element in this story, which is pretty rare in the classics.

However, even though thisclassic was eventually un-banned, in 1992, it was challenged again in the Mount Diablo school district.  A pair of self-proclaimed witches said it wasn’t suitable for children because it painted witches in a bad light, and made children think it was okay to burn them. I wondered what they thought about Macbeth.